Recently, while stating how painfully bad the new Elvis Costello/Roots collaboration is (titled Wise Up Ghost for those that want to investigate further), Iman Lababedi commented that Elvis Costello is “the Hulk Hogan of rock.” The analogy was so terribly wrong headed, so shallow, so misguided…it shook me to the core of my foundation. I felt less pain in 10th grade football practice when Richie Hargrave rolled into my left leg, causing my ligaments to detach from the knee, resulting in reconstructive surgery.
When pressed further on this analogy, Iman replied, “Wasn’t he (Hogan) a good guy that became a bad guy?” What kind of history lessons do we teach in America these days? Shouldn’t every red blooded American know that early in his career Mr. Terry Bollea, who later morphed into the Hulkster, was once billed as “Sterling Golden” and was a heel? And, I would argue, the whole “good guy/bad guy” issue entirely misses the point when it comes to Elvis Costello.
Elvis Costello is and has been a highly critically acclaimed singer, but has never had great commercial success. He has had two Top 40 hits in the U.S., “Everday I Write the Book” peaking at #36 in 1983 and “Veronica,” which went to #19 in 1989. Hulk Hogan spent several years as the biggest box office attraction in professional wrestling. While Costello was working club gigs, Hogan was regularly selling out Madison Square Garden. There is no comparison in popularity.
The other issue is technical competence or, that is to say, how well each man performed in his particular field. From 1977 though 1982, Elvis Costello was arguably the most talented man in popular music. With the Attractions, he made exhilarating music that could be filled with rage or impossibly tuneful. He was incredibly gifted. Conversely, Hogan was a fantastic drawing card, but his actual wrestling matches were, for the most part, barely passable. Simplistic ring psychology, a limited set of moves, no fluid transitions. Painfully cartoonish. Costello clearly is the better performer.
So, we must answer the question, who in the world of professional wrestling is the proper comparison to Elvis Costello? We must pass this knowledge to future generations.
Tom Prichard broke into the wrestling business in the 1970s under legendary Houston promoter Paul Boesch and worked regional territories throughout the country. Undersized for the steroid era, he was known as one of the best in ring performers in the business, but worked low on the cards for almost a decade. In the late 1980s, he became “Dr. Tom Prichard” and began doing a rather odd Roddy Piper imitation/tribute during interviews. In the early ’90s, he was hired by Jim Cornette to be part of the lead heel tag team for Smoky Mountain Wrestling, working with Stan Lane as “The Heavenly Bodies.” A few years later, he made it to the WWE, even getting a run as a world tag team champion. No longer in the “big leagues,” Dr. Tom still occasionally straps on the boots at independent shows and attends wrestling conventions.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Comparing both popularity and technical skill, Elvis Costello is the Dr. Tom Prichard of popular music!
Please join us next week when we discuss who is the Jerry “The King” Lawler of semi-professional rugby.
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